Some people hear the word "nonfiction" and cringe, while visions of math books and dusty old history tomes float through their heads. However, truth is often stranger than fiction, as this selection of nonfiction books will make you realize.
Lance Armstrong made headlines in January when he announced to Oprah that he did, indeed, use performance enhancing drugs. His 2000 autobiography, "It's Not About the Bike," gives readers a chance to look back and revisit how Lance defended his actions. This book really shows Lance's life, though, outside of being a world biking champion. It not only touches on cancer and how it changed his views on his own life but how it changed his views on others. He is shown as a real person with real problems.
For those who want to become competitive themselves, check out "Food Guide for Marathoners," by Nancy Clark. This book is packed with a ton of tips and tricks to keep both walkers and runners in top condition. There aren't a lot of recipes, but it does show you a multitude of ways to manipulate basic ingredients in a fast and cheap way to fuel your body's needs. There are a lot of inspirational quotes and comments throughout the book by some of the world's top runners and coaches. Such as this one from Jonathan Dietrich of Washington, D.C.: "Eat wisely, train smart and strive to be a little better today than you were yesterday." Anyone interested in healthy eating, even if you aren't getting ready for the Tour de France, would find this book useful.
In case you're thinking there's no way you could ever be a marathoner because you just don't have the genes for it, then you might want to consider reading "Origins," by Annie Murphy Paul. This is a fascinating look at how a woman's pregnancy can shape the future life of her unborn child. For example, there is research that shows that babies born underweight have a higher risk of developing heart disease. It's told as a month by month journey through the author's own pregnancy, so although it is heavy on research, it's a pretty easy read -- and highly recommended for those who are pregnant or just plain medicine nerds.
For those of you who want to read about the good old days -- when life was hard, but good characters were forged -- then you should read "Ava's Man" by Rick Bragg. Bragg is one of the very best Southern writers. He makes you laugh a little, and then sets you to crying. This is the story of his grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, a roofer and moonshiner in the Georgia/Alabama region during the Great Depression. As Bragg says of his grandfather: "The one thing I am dead sure of is that his ghost ... would have haunted me forever if I had whitewashed him." Bragg's love and respect for his people makes you love the grandfather he never even knew and gives you respect, understanding and love for the poor working Southerners of the Depression era. They are history's forgotten, struggling, striving, starving survivors.